Hiking The Hocking Hills Of Ohio
Because the southeast part of the state, an hour or so from Columbus, Hocking Hills, Ohio, is nothing like any impression I had of the Buckeye State.
It’s rolling hillocks and swaths of wheat covered fields dotted with sad eyed cows and very happy horses, running more or less free in the many open paddocks and ranges.
It’s a simple part of America, with little pretense but with surprisingly sophisticated inns and traditions borrowed from the Native Americans who lived here, and the Scots, Irish and German settlers that displaced them.
The Native Americans created networks of beautiful parks with dramatic rocky overhangs, gorges and waterfalls and quiet walking trails that give Hocking Hills its character
The European interlopers created lovely inns and Mom and Pop shops, which give Hocking Hills its homespun, family-friendly feeling.
The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls for example, off one of the many twisting, isolated roads, is a combination of individualistically designed cottages, cabins and rooms.
Innkeepers Ellen Grinsfelder and Terry Lingo put their place together creatively, with a whimsical mix of antiques, “found” objects, industrial throw-aways, and quality art creating a kind of clever” Granny Chic” style. No two rooms are the same, and each is a bit of an enchanting experience.
The fine dining is “Fine Dining” with exceptional handcrafted local beers by Rockmill Brewery.
Speaking of “enchanting,” no where else have I heard an innkeeper recite the poems of Robert Burns or the prose of Dickens and entertain guests with stories of King Arthur over lunch. Innkeeper Michael Daniels does that at Glenlaurel Country Inn a Scots-style inn on acres of land with its own waterfall.
While Hocking Hills may not be on anyone’s top ten places to see in the world, it’s a travel surprise, doing what travel should do: Create positive and meaningful travel experiences, especially when and where you least expect them.
• The Columbus Washboard Company in nearby Logan is the largest washboard maker in the world. They ship the washboards as part of a laundry package to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washboard, they say, are making a comeback in our “greening” society, and a visit to the factory will get you playing a washboard in an impromptu washboard band
• Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours delivers a 30- minute, scenic tour in a 4-seater. Pilot and guide, Harry Sowers guides visitors over the hills and gets up close (not too close) to the beauty of the region
• Hocking Hills Canopy Tours aka/Ziplining is one of those exhilarating experiences that fills you with joy and fear. A fun, well-guided zip through the treetops on a network of cables and sky bridges suspended above the forest, is addictive and unforgettable.
Hocking Hills is a quiet place, proud of what it is and very welcoming to families, friends and the curious.
Image Credits: Wendie Hansen